Sad news out of Boston this afternoon (and I'm refraining from the obligatory "the Bruins are still in existence" crack) as former Canadiens defenceman Tom Johnson has passed away at the age of 79.
For those who don't know, Johnson was one of the unsung (well, maybe "not-as-sung") heroes of the Habs juggernaut of the fifties and sixties. Born in Baldur, Manitoba in 1928, Johnson spent 15 years with the Canadiens and won six Cups as a player, including the fabled 5 in a row from 1956 to 1960. Johnson never got the press his more illustrious blueline counterpart Doug Harvey did, but he was a talented defender and leader and won the Norris Trophy in 1959 after a career year of 10 goals, 29 assists and 39 points. Injuries put an end to his career after a final two seasons with the Bruins, and Johnson embarked on a second career in Bruins management, getting his name on an additional two Cups as Assistant General Manager and Coach in 1970 and 1972, respectively. He remains the Bruins all-time leader for winning percentage by a coach at .738.
Johnson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970. He leaves behind his wife Doris, son Tommy and daughter Julie.
Rest in Peace, Tom. Although the FHF never saw you play, we realize what your contributions to the legacy of this great franchise were, and for that we salute you. Harvey, Rocket, Boom Boom, and Jacques have a seat waiting for you at Blake's Tavern.